Thursday, February 05, 2009

Love Letters, 1948 - Pioneering

Sometime between the last letter and this one, my father's work situation changed. He, along with a group of townmates in Los Banos, were recruited by another townmate, Mr. Arana, to provide security in the still to open University of the Philippines campus in what is now Quezon City. Here is what the U.P. website says about that:

The U.P. Diliman Police had its roots from a group of pioneering men who were hired as security guards and special watchmen to keep watch over the few colleges and administrative offices that initially constituted the U.P. Diliman campus in 1949. The unit was given the primary mission of securing University property.

My father was among those pioneers. His group actually came to U.P. in 1948, not 1949. The University transferred to this site from Manila in February 1949.

This was to be a turning point in my parents' life as it marked the beginning of more than 4 decades of life within this campus which today remains the place I consider home. It's like the womb where I came from. It permeates our family history.

Here's a letter my father wrote to my mother when he was just starting in his new job. Below the English translation are a few more anecdotes.





U.P. Site
Dec. 8, 1948

Ling aking Mahal,

Kumusta ba ang ating fiesta diyan? Ipagtira mo naman ako kahit na buto. Eh, kumusta naman ang aking ling na mabait, at si Mama kong kalikutan? Marahil ay nalulungkot na kayo ano? Hayaan ninyo’t aayusin ko na ang ating matitirhan. Kami ngayon ay naririto na sa barracks mula pa kahapon. Ngayon lang kami nag-umpisa ng servicio. Ako ay napatama sa pang araw.

Inaantay ko na lamang ang disposision ng Mr. Arana kung alin ang maaari natin matirhan. Ngayon ay maaari na kayong magbalotbalot sapagkat oras na ako’y mabigyan ng kuarto bago magsueldo ay sa 16 o kaya sa 17 ng buang ito ako pupunta diyan upang kaunin kayo. Kung hindi sa araw ako makarating ay marahil sa gabi na pagkatapos ng servicio ko. Kayat kung maari ay makiusap ka na rin ay Mang Tebo o sa mga jeep sa atin at oras oras ay maari natin gamitin.

Kumusta naman ang inyong viaje ni Itay? Kahimanawari kayo’y nakarating ng malualhati. Hindi ba naman nagliligalig si Mama? Sabihin mo sa kanya’y magpapakabait siya.

Ling, ang buhay ko ngayon ay para na naman buhay sundalo. Kung minsan ako’y nag-iisa rito sa aming tinitirhan sapagkat naglalakuatsa silang lahat sa barrio.

Tatapusin ko na Ling ang liham ko baka maubusan ako sa susunod. Ihalik mo na lang ako kay Mama at para ka na rin humalik sa akin. Kumusta na lang silang lahat diyan lalong-lalo na sa inyong mag-ina.

Ang hindi maaring lumimot,

Fredie



U.P. Site
Dec. 8, 1948

Ling (short for Darling) my love,

How is the fiesta (Feast of Immaculate Conception) there? Leave some food for me, even just bones. So how is my kind darling and my Mama (nickname for Fremma) who can't keep still? You may be feeling lonely, right? Don't worry, I will arrange a place for us to stay. We have been staying at the barracks since yesterday. We just started work today. I was given a day shift.

I am just waiting for Mr. Arana's decision regarding where we can stay. You can now start packing because any time I am given a room before payday, I may be able to get you on the 16 of 17 of this month. If not during the day, perhaps at night after my shift. So if possible, request Mang Tebo or any jeep owner there for the use of their vehicle any time.

How was your trip with Father (my maternal grandfather)? I hope your trip went well. Is Mama making a fuss? Tell her to be good.

Ling, my life right now is once again like that of a soldier. Sometimes I am alone here because all the other guys gallivant in town.

I will wrap up my letter here, Ling, because I might run out of things to say for next time. Just kiss Mama for me and it's like you are kissing me. Regards to all especially to you and our daughter.

One who will never forget,

Fredie


----

U.P. at that time only had 2 buildings, barracks and quonset huts. The all-male security detail, which became the U.P Police, stayed in one barracks in the vast expanse of the university, 493 hectares in all. My father brought my mother and sister to live with him at the headquarters. My mother and sister can therefore make a claim to be the first females in this campus, like I have heard my parents say repeatedly.

My parents have many stories from this time. One I can remember right now is about my sister, how she would be startled by the siren when it went off at the headquarters and screamed for as long as it was ringing. She was said to chatter a lot too and endeared everyone in the barracks.


A quonset hut. I still saw a few of these when I was a child. (Image taken from arcweb.sos.state.or.us)

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